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Funding Recommendations to Address Systemic Racial Inequities in Policing and Criminal Justice

June 23, 2020

The broad scope of systemic racism is ingrained in our society and the systems within it. With the renewed and broad attention on this issue in recent weeks, many donors have requested guidance on organizations to fund. Our general guidance, as always in times of urgent need, is to give donations with as few restrictions as possible; to allocate support for the immediate and longer-term; and to fund organizations that are already active and experienced.

With that in mind, we have created for consideration a list of established organizations that work to address racial inequity and its aftermath in policing and the criminal justice system in the United States. These organizations come at this issue from different angles, but this is not an exhaustive list. Accordingly, we encourage donors to conduct additional research and to reach out to us with any questions.

Campaign Zero
Funds donated to Campaign Zero support:

  • the analysis of policing practices across the country;
  • research to identify effective solutions to end police violence;
  • technical assistance to organizers leading police accountability campaigns; and
  • the development of model legislation and advocacy to end police violence nationwide.

Color of Change
Color of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice community. It commissions research on systems of inequality, advances solutions for racial justice, and leads campaigns that challenge injustice. Currently, Color of Change is holding government officials, police officers, and corporate leaders accountable in their responses to the current movement for racial justice.

Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
The Ella Baker Center works locally, statewide, and nationally to shift resources from prisons and punishment to opportunities that make communities safe, healthy, and strong. It mobilizes everyday people to build power and prosperity through avocational campaign efforts that localize national conversations on public safety. The Ella Baker Center is actively advocating for the families and victims of police brutality, as well as for a decreased police presence in schools and communities.

Movement for Black Lives
The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) was created as a space for Black organizations across the country to:

  • debate and discuss current political conditions;
  • develop shared assessments of what political interventions were necessary in order to achieve key policy, cultural and political wins; and
  • convene organizational leadership in order to debate and co-create a shared movement-wide strategy.

M4BL is currently providing resources for safe and effective protesting, and is convening organizations to renew an agenda built around local power, multiracial movement-building, and mass engagement.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund 
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) uses litigation, advocacy, and public education to pioneer the move towards structural change and full racial justice. By creating educational resources and providing legal aid, LDF works to advance reform through criminal justice, economic justice, education, and political participation. LDF advocates for policies at the federal, state, and local levels to advance police accountability and reform.

The Bail Project
The Bail Project National Revolving Bail Fund provides free bail assistance to low-income individuals who are legally presumed innocent, and whom a judge has deemed eligible for release before trial contingent on paying bail. Currently it is providing assistance to protestors who have been arrested throughout the country.

Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is an independent nonprofit national research and policy organization with the mission “to tackle the most pressing injustices of our day: from the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, racial disparities, and the loss of public trust in law enforcement, to the unmet needs of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and those harmed by crime and violence.”  Vera works with the government, nonprofit partners, and communities to conduct research and facilitate both the evaluation and development of programs related to substance abuse, mental health, immigration, policing, and youth justice. It provides research and analysis on arrest trends and different policies.

For More Information
For general advice on giving in times of crisis, review RPA’s Philanthropy Roadmap Guide, Giving in Challenging Times.  In addition, we are always available to provide recommendations specifically tailored to align with your mission. If you’d like more information, please contact Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Executive Vice President Walter Sweet at [email protected].

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